NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins

After a tough weekend, don’t be pointing fingers at 71 and 87.

 

Blaming Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for the Penguins’ faults. We told you this narrative would be coming. The above tweet is like a disease, and it’s spreading. Luckily, it’s happened a little earlier this year, so instead of it getting mixed up in an avalanche of other playoff-demise theories, it is out in front.
Actually, maybe blaming 71 and 87 is accurate. Malkin and Crosby are so good, the Penguins’ severe depth issues have been masked. But when they get shut down for two games, and the coaching staff does nothing to give them some room, all of a sudden, they are the two biggest bums on the planet. They’re easy targets, and they’ve taken the blame like professionals their entire career and will continue to do so because they know it comes with the territory.

The quote that keeps on giving

We keep going back to this quote because it is so damn true.
If the Pens lose in the playoffs, as they probably will, it will probably involve Crosby/Malkin having a few cold games (or Marc-Andre Fleury blowing up). When that happens, people will say “Gee, Malkin/Crosby/Fleury were terrible.” Perhaps they should point out that Pittsburgh is trying to win with an abysmal bottom half of their team, which piles an awful lot of pressure on the other guys.
Yep. If anything, this past weekend was two things:
1. A terrible reminder of recent playoff flame-outs.
2. A likely foreshadowing of what is to come if the Penguins don’t start getting some help from their secondary scoring. People are quick to point to injuries for the losses this weekend, but those injuries were to Neal and Kunitz, some pretty big guns. Those injuries put double the pressure on Crosby and Malkin to produce. And it doesn’t mean the depth guys get to just coast through the weekend. Score a goal.

Stats

Well, Jayson Megna did in fact score a goal, so that’s something. Unfortunately, if history is any indication, when Kunitz and Neal return, Megna will be sent down so that Vitale and Gibbons can skate fast into the boards and lose battles.
Megna has played in 26 games this season for the Penguins. That seemed like a lot, so we linked his game log. He has scored 5 goals.
Tanner Glass: 52 GP — 4 goals.
Brian Gibbons: 26 GP — 4 goals.
Chris Conner: 19 GP — 4 goals.
Craig Adams: 67 GP — 3 goals.
Chuck Kobasew: 32 GP — 2 goals.
Harry Zolnierczyk: 11 GP — 2 goals.
Taylor Pyatt: 23 GP — 2 goals.
Joe Vitale: 51 GP — 1 goal somehow.
We get the whole Adams/Glass argument because the Pens are really couting on their special teams to come through for them on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, in the bubble of a playoff series, shit could go south in a hurry.
Jayson Megna is currently 62nd in the NHL in goals/60mins of ice time, by the way.
Chris Conner is 66th.
Again, when Kunitz and Neal (and, gulp, Bennett) return to the lineup, Megna’s probably going to get sent down, and it’s not going to make any sense.

The potentional positive in this

The bad news: there is no way to get capable forwards anymore this season, and we weren’t in the Pens’ warroom, so maybe Shero did the best he could possibly do with Stempniak and Goc.

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The good news: the Penguins have 15 games to rev up and get healthy. Obviously, when Chris Kunitz returns, that will be a boost. Same thing with James Neal, but this concussion seems a little strange.

15 games. That number just hit us again. The Pens have only 15 games remaining until the bright lights come on. It’s March 17th. The playoffs begin April 15th. And whatever happens after April, don’t blame 71 and 87.

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